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Aug 1, 2010 11:30 PM

Oregon Coast report: Port Orford and Newport

The wife and I just spent several days exploring the beautiful Oregon Coast, and, thanks in part to recommendations of the fine hounds on this board ( ), ate quite well the whole time.

We'd started our trip with a night in Ashland (my report here; ). And after picking up some cheese at the Rogue Creamery, we cut across to the coast via the infamous Bear Camp Road (not knowing until afterward that this daunting, twisty, and rather poorly marked road was the site of the Kim family tragedy of a few years ago). Anyway, after a few navigational miscues, we made it to our first stop on the coast, the quaint village of Port Orford, where we'd made plans to try the famous (at least according to Sunset Magazine) fish and chips at Crazy Norwegian's.

I stuck with the restaurant's trademark dish, and I ended up feeling pretty pleased with (if not blown away by) my dinner. They do a good fry job on the fish, so there's a nice crust, though a couple of the pieces had slightly soggy (and grease-soaked) bottoms, maybe from sitting on top of the chips. The fish itself (local cod) was a bit bland (not much seasoning), but the amazingly tasty house-made tartar sauce more than made up for it. Also noteworthy were the fries (excellent, super-crisp) and the side of cole slaw (nice mild tang without being overly sauced).

My wife opted for the shrimp and chips, which she seemed to enjoy--though to me, the portion size (four jumbo shrimp) was a bit skimpy and the shrimp themselves pretty unmemorable. The other highlight of the meal was the slice of marionberry pie (one of four or five pie options) that we had for dessert. The pie was served warm, rustic in a good homemade kind of way, and the filling wasn't too sweet.

Sunset Magazine had named Crazy Norwegian's one of the West Coast's top 10 seafood spots by the sea. I don't know if I would put the restaurant on any kind of top 10 list, but it was a tasty, unpretentious meal, and we enjoyed it.

Crazy Norwegians
259 Sixth St, Port Orford, OR 97465

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  1. For breakfast in Port Orford the next morning, we decided to eat at Paradise Cafe, a restaurant folks on Yelp had good things to say about. Homey place, packed full of locals on a Thursday morning. I ordered the blueberry hotcake--just one hotcake, but it was literally bigger than my head. Really good. It was so big that they had to put the scrambled eggs and bacon that came with my breakfast on top of the hotcake itself. This was a tasty and inexpensive breakfast.

    My wife enjoyed her corned beef hash, which came with eggs, toast, and a giant mound of hash browns.

    We'd definitely eat at Paradise Cafe again if driving through this part of the coast!

    Paradise Cafe
    1825 Oregon St, Port Orford, OR 97465

    1. From Port Orford, we made our way up the coast to Yachats, where we had booked a room at a B&B. Having heard that there isn't much worthy chow to speak of in Yachats proper, we decided to go a little further north, to Newport, for dinner that night. Our wedding anniversary dinner, to be exact. Local Ocean Seafoods was the pick, and it was a good one--definitely one of the better meals of our trip and worth the 40-minute wait for a table on a Thursday night.

      What I especially appreciated about the meal was our waitress, who was extremely enthusiastic and decisive whenever we were torn between two options and asked her for a recommendation. (It's a pet peeve of mine when a waiter says that "everything" on the menu is good and then doesn't even provide any additional information about the dishes to help me make my decision.)

      So I started with a fish taco (I like how you can choose to have one, two, or three tacos--three would make a meal in and of themselves), which I believe was made with grilled rock cod and came with a fennel slaw and an avocado salsa verde, plus a crispy-chewy rice cake of sorts on the side. This fish taco had some heat, and the flavors were all good and clean. I prefer crispy fish tacos to the grilled kind, but I enjoyed this. I wish it were served in a corn tortilla, though, rather than a flour one (which tasted store-bought and slightly stale).

      For our other starter, we had the steamers--the first of our waitress's enthusiastic recommendations. These were prepared in the "Northwest style", with garlic, shallots, chardonnay and butter, and served with toasted sourdough. The clams were delicious--perfectly cooked and so, so fresh. My wife exclaimed, "These taste just like the ocean!" Some of the best clams we've had.

      Our waitress's beer rec (for me) was spot-on too: the Lost Coast Brewery's Great White, which is my new favorite microbrew. Very refreshing, and went great with the food.

      For the main course, my wife liked her crab po'boy, which I tried--it was a simple, tasty sandwich, if not a particularly large. Served with fries. For my entree, I had another one of our waitress's recommendations, the seared Coho salmon. This was served over linguini with a saffron tomato sauce (couldn't tasted the saffron much, though), roasted pablano pepper, and Oregonzola cheese. I wasn't sure I liked the cheese with the fish here, and I thought the flavors of the sauce could have really popped with the addition of, say, some capers. But the showpiece here was the salmon itself, a beautiful specimen--again, cooked perfectly and really, really fresh.

      A surprising highlight was dessert: They don't have a lot of choices on the menu, so we weren't expecting much. But again, our waitress came through with her endorsement of the shortbread parfait, which turned out to be a much more exciting dessert than the name would suggest. They make their own lemon shortbread in house, and it's really good, and I liked the texture of it a lot better than the spongy stuff you often end up with in a parfait. It was a parfait in the sense that there were chunks of the shortbread, loads of whipped cream, and a variety of fresh fruit--but it was more tossed together in a bowl than it was layered. This was a refreshing and delicious summer dessert and the perfect ending to our meal.

      Thanks again to all you Oregon hounds for your help with planning this trip. We really fell in love with the coast this time and hope to be back sooner rather than later!

      Local Ocean Seafoods
      213 SE Bay Blvd, Newport, OR 97365

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